Signs of Sleep DeprivationPosted 9 years ago under Uncategorized
There are many health and safety reasons to consider if you are not getting sufficient sleep. Here are the warning signs telling you that you are overdoing it and probably have been for some time. (1)
An Alarm Clock is the Only Way to Wake Up
If you can’t wake up on time without electronic help, this is a sign that you’re sleep deprived. It’s prudent to set alarm clocks just in case, but if you’re jolted out of a deep sleep every workday or feel the need to repeatedly hit the snooze button; you’re not getting enough sleep. If one is sleeping late on weekends when going to bed at the usual time, this is a clear warning sign. Frequent make-up sleep is a sign of sleep deprivation.
Impaired Decision Making
Chronic sleep deprivation impairs our ability to make minor decisions. The decisions could be as inconsequential as where to sit in a movie theatre, what movie to see, or whether to take a window or an aisle seat on a flight. Difficulty ordering from a menu, choosing what clothes to wear, what errands to run, and what order in which to do things are also common examples of impaired minor decision making. Trivial decisions have a way of appearing to be profoundly important when overly tired.
An inability to make important decisions is just as common for sleep-deprived individuals. This can manifest as a propensity to freeze or panic when faced with highly stressful situations. Delaying major decisions like firing a subordinate when they clearly aren’t a good fit for the job is commonly postponed. Also unnecessarily leaving a job that one is unhappy with is also very common. It takes a toll on energy levels to look for a new job or to fire an employee and replace them. Chronically exhausted people are usually using everything they have just to get by. Often caught in a holding pattern, putting off and delaying any major decisions. (2)
There is another form of impairment besides an inability to make decisions. Some sleep-deprived individuals aren’t paralyzed when making decisions. Instead, they have lost the ability to think things through and rush into making major decisions on impulse, without thinking through the consequences. (3)
Everyone has their moments, and it can be hard to tell if the reason for feelings of irritability is the people around us, or a lack of sleep. If you ask the people around you if you’re often grouchy, you may not get an honest answer. If you ask yourself, you may be kidding yourself. Ask your spouse or partner, he or she will know if you’re irritable.
Lack of sleep can lower sex hormones and increase stress hormones, which of course further lowers the sex drive. This is more prevalent in people over 30 years of age. But it can happen to anyone who’s exhausted all the time, young or old.
Impaired Immune System
Many people blame getting sick on germs, and though germs play a factor, with an optimal immune response people rarely, if ever, get sick. Frequent colds and bouts with the flu are a warning sign that the immune system is impaired. Our immune system needs adequate rest to function at optimal levels. (4)
If you don’t know what happened to your memory these days, lack of sleep may be the culprit. All of the mnemonic tricks in the world pale in comparison to adequate rest.
Inability to Concentrate
Similar to an impaired memory, our ability to concentrate is dependent on adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to lower test scores, reduced productivity at work, and increased distractibility. This also includes lackadaisical staring off into space that sleepy people tend to do. (5)
If you don’t know what happened to your sense of coordination, lack of sleep is quite possibly the problem. Sleep deprived individuals are more clumsy than those who are legally drunk. Video gamers take note: pulling all-nighters makes you less coordinated.
When chronically sleep deprived, our bodies will steal rest from us. At inopportune times, we can fade out, and not even know that it happened to us. Over half of American drivers have admitted to nodding off at the wheel. What’s worse is most drivers simply keep driving. If fading out during the day, this is a sure sign of sleep deprivation. (6)
What makes one clumsier, drinking more than the legal limit? Or does being awake for 19 hours make one clumsier? If you think the answer is staying awake, you’re right. Most people wouldn’t go to work drunk, but far too many go to work sleep drunk and seriously impaired. (7)
Many people feel the need to push themselves beyond what we can get done in a day. When something has to give way, we cut into our sleep. But all we are doing is creating a cycle of diminishing returns, wherein we get less and less done during the day, leading us to feel we need to stay awake longer, in order to get more done.
Pushing one beyond their limits can be dangerous, even fatal. Falling asleep at the wheel is one of the most common ways to kill one’s self through sleep deprivation, but there are many other possible ways.
Sleep deprivation increases our risk for a multitude of diseases including chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndrome, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, obesity, and depression, to name a few.
Our bodies tell us in a multitude of ways if we have been pushing ourselves too hard. It is very prudent to be aware of the signs of sleep deprivation. (8)
(2) The Seven Pillars of Health, by Don Colbert M.D.
(4) The Seven Pillars of Health, by Don Colbert M.D.